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Contemplations...

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By Alice Du Pont

There was a time, not so long ago, that I could remember everything trivial. Remember Trivia Pursuit, the game that was so popular back in the 80s? I was good at it. My friends and I would play into the early morning hours. Two weeks ago I was in Orlando and met up with one of my old college roommates and we started talking about the many hours we spent having fun.

Trivia Pursuit also helps with another very important part of life: answering Jeopardy questions. For both of these games a good memory is required. My memory is selective. If you ask me the address of the place where I lived 20 years ago, I can rattle that off in a flash but I forget to pay my telephone bill until the very last minute. It seems as if the important things evade my memory while I clutter my mind with the insignificant.

There must be a psychological reason for this and I'm sure someone has coined a catchy word for my infirmity, if you can call it that. Still, I persevere by trying to write myself notes. And I leave notes everywhere. In school, were were encouraged to take copious notes because the thinking was that if you write it down, it reinforces the memory. I write notes in my datebook, on my wall calendar, on my desk calendar, on my office computer, on my home computer, on my bedroom mirror and on my refrigerator. With all of these reminders, it would appear that I would never miss a meeting. Not true.

Just Nov. 24, I almost missed an important meeting. The city of Quincy's regular commission meetings have been held the same time on the same day for as long as I can remember. But for some reason that night I was sitting in my office doing a little office housekeeping about 6 p.m.  An hour later I decided it was time to go home and as I was riding pass City Hall, I noticed cars in the parking lot. Then it dawned on me that I had missed part of the commission meeting.

I slapped myself on the forehead and wondered how could I have possibly forgotten the meeting? I did a u-turn and made it to the meeting just in time not to miss too much. It couldn't  have been my fault. I blamed it on the holiday and the early deadline we have at the newspaper.

Our holiday deadline had been moved up a day, so Tuesday seemed like Wednesday to me last week and that's what I was operating on. Still, the nagging little voice in my head told me that the reminders of the meeting were in all of the usual places and if I had looked up at the wall calendar or down at my desk calendar, the meeting would have clicked.

I was reading someplace that we all start to lose our memory in the late 20s. The older we get the more we clutter our minds with information such as dates, telephone numbers, names and places, as well as other more important information. The brain then slowly empties itself of information that has been stored but hasn't been retrieved in months or years. This explains why when we reach into the recesses of our minds the information is not always readily available. And that's the reason we forget.

Now I feel better.